Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer
September 27, 2017 // Bishop

Closing Mass marks anniversary of the ‘Miracle of the Sun’

Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer

On Friday, Oct. 13, the miracle performed by Our Lady of Fatima and the closing of the yearlong anniversary observance of her appearances will be celebrated in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The Mass, which takes place with the support and participation of the World Apostolate of Fatima, will be celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at 6 p.m. at St. Matthew Cathedral. As part of the Mass, Bishop Rhoades will offer a special papal or apostolic blessing to all the faithful present, as well as the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence is the complete remission of temporal punishment due to sin.

Why should Catholics desire to receive a
plenary indulgence?

To worthily celebrate the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, by mandate of Pope Francis, a Jubilee Year was declared, with its inherent plenary indulgence. The papal blessing, which a diocesan bishop is permitted to bestow in the name of the Holy Father on three occasions each year, carries with it a plenary indulgence for those who meet the usual conditions.

To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must be truly penitent and animated with charity and must ritually fulfill the following conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father. The faithful can receive a plenary indulgence once a day at most.

An indulgence is defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” Through an indulgence, God grants the prayer of the church that the temporal penalty for sin due to someone be reduced (or possibly eliminated). By God’s grace, participation in a prayer or action that has an indulgence attached to it brings about the necessary restoration and reparation without the suffering that would normally accompany it. Through indulgences, the infinite merits of Christ, as well as the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints are applied to our purification in this life or in the life to come (in purgatory).

It is important to note that the indulgence may be applied to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, even family members or friends.

The first three actions may be fulfilled within 20 days before or after the offering of the indulgence. However, it is most appropriate if they are all done on the same day the indulgence is offered.

The conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence are:

1) Being truly repentant and receiving absolution in the sacrament of penance

2) Reception of Holy Communion

3) Praying for the Holy Father’s intentions

4) Total detachment from any inclination or desire to sin, even venial sins

Following five months of 13th-day Masses held across the diocese in remembrance of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, the sixth and closing Mass of the centennial year is planned for 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend. — Bob List

The 100th anniversary of Fatima

On Oct. 13, the Miracle of the Sun occurred at Fatima, a small town in Portugal. This was the final event of six months of Our Lady of Fatima visiting and teaching three small shepherd children. Thousands of people witnessed the miracle and believed in God again. What she said to them was a continuation of what Jesus himself taught, and Mary asked for a conversion of people’s hearts and lives.

That morning it rained heavily for several hours: But the downpour did not deter crowds from coming to Cova da Ira, the place where the children would care for their sheep. There were an estimated 30,000-55,000 people present, with another 20,000 in the nearby area. Most were freezing and wet from the rain and their feet were soaked in thick mud.

The children arrived and Lucia asked everyone to put down their umbrellas and pray the rosary. Soon there was a flash of light and Mary appeared above the oak tree, as she had in previous apparitions — but only the visionaries saw her.

Mary spoke to Lucia: “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue to pray the rosary every day. The war is going to end and soldiers will soon return to their homes.” After the children asked for healings of some who were sick, Our Lady added, “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because he is already so much offended.”

She opened her hands wide and rose into the sky. A bright light came from her and Lucia shouted for people to look in that direction. The rain stopped, the clouds divided and the sun appeared, even brighter than usual. It increased and grew brighter, but did not harm anyone’s eyes. It began to alternately glow and dim, spinning around and emitting multicolored rays in all directions.

Soon people shouted in fear, however, as the sun stopped spinning and started to fall. Coming quickly towards them, people cried, fainted and fell to their knees.

When the sun was just above the ground, it stopped and returned to its place. The crowds gasped: Their soaking clothes, even the ground, were dry. It was as if it had not rained for weeks.

Testimonies were provided by witnesses from all levels of society and education. One, Avelino de Almeida, was a secular journalist who came to Fatima to expose the event as a hoax. What he wrote and published however was the complete opposite: He confirmed the miracle in a long article on the front cover of an anti-clerical, pro- government newspaper.

This was the first public miracle since the Resurrection that was foretold and spoken of in advance, confirming the gravity and importance of the message of Our Lady of Fatima. The children were afraid that people may not believe them, because they were children: Our Lady explained that this miracle would let all people know that the apparitions, and thus her messages, were real.

The children had another vision once they were alone, in which they saw the Holy Family, blessing the world making the Sign of the Cross.

The 100th anniversary of Fatima is a critical time to stop and reflect on one’s own life and salvation, perhaps by asking the following questions: Am I listening and obeying Our Lady’s words? Do I pray and fast and offer alms to the poor? Do I adore God and avoid sin? Do I have a contrite heart for my sinful choices and desire to follow God’s will in the future?

After the centennial year closing Mass, attendees are invited to stay for exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the praying of the holy rosary and Fatima prayers, a Marian procession and a social gathering in the school gymnasium.

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